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The Second Helvetic Confession (1562) and the Atonement.

April 22, 2017

*I myself believe that Calvin did NOT teach an idea of a “Limited” Atonement!  But an Atonement that was “sufficient” for all men/people, but that was “efficient” or efficacious alone for the redeemed, i.e. the Election of Grace!  So strictly speaking in some way the Atonement is General (Sufficient…John 1: 29 ; John 3: 16, 1 John 2: 2). Again, more of St. Paul’s use of the Greek word, “musterion”, 1 Cor. 4: 1. And here in Paul it is used in the broadest sense of as God’s full revealed truth in the NT especially, though always rich in GOD’s Mystery!  Such is always God’s biblical revelation in itself.

  1. Btw, the Second Helvetic Confession really demands more reading and use! But of course NO human confession is infallible, but only GOD’s Word & Revelation itself! BUT, we surely MUST use our Creedal definitions, they do sometimes come very close to God’s Word!

      • Btw, Amen to this last sentence! … ‘It seems that Bullinger and Leo Judæ wished to add a caution against the binding authority of this or any other confession that might interfere with the supreme authority of the Word of God and with Christian liberty.’

        *This last statement is a hard pill for many modern Calvinists today! Especially for those who hold to the Five Points of Calvinism like it WAS Scripture itself! And I can appreciate these too myself, but as I have noted I simply do NOT believe Calvin himself taught Limited Atonement strictly speaking. And of course, as I have written, nor do I think Limited Atonement is Biblical! (Again, John 1: 29 ; 3: 16; 1 John 2: 2)

  2. Vos’s Biblical Theology is worth looking at here…

    ‘Biblical Theology in the tradition of Geerhardus Vos approaches the Bible as an organic drama of God’s unfolding revelation through history. In distinction from doctrinal or systematic theology, biblical theology follows the progressively unfolding revelation of God’s words and deeds through history. This linear aspect of revelation unites each revelatory event and proclamation both retrospectively and prospectively. Vos described the organic continuation of revelation in history as a flower expanding from bud to blossom. The blossom is retrospectively united to the bud; the bud is prospectively united to the blossom. One of the tasks/privileges of the interpreter of Scripture is to draw out these organic prospective and retrospective relationships. At the center of this organic unity is the person and work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Even as our Risen Lord related all of Scripture retrospectively and prospectively to himself (Luke 24:27), so Reformed biblical theology is preeminently Christocentric. We seek to display Christ in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

    But Vos also realized that a mere linear approach to biblical theology that was typological only would be a one-dimensional hermeneutic. For Vos, the Scriptures displayed a drama more wonderful than the mere linear. A mere horizontal hermeneutic was inadequate to the drama of God’s entrance into history. Hence, Vos declared that a genuine Biblical hermeneutic was two dimensional — vertical and horizontal. Intersecting the horizontal at every point in the history of salvation was the vertical. God spoke into history; God acted in history; God was incarnated in history. Vos described this vertical interface with history as the eschatological penetration of the history of redemption. In fact, Vos approached Scripture from the standpoint of the priority of the eschatological. Overarching the entire history of redemption was the eschatological arena. Every revelation of God in history was an invitation for the creature to possess the arena of the Eschatological/heavenly. This would only be accomplished through the saving work of the Son, Jesus Christ. Hence, Christ was eschatologically revealed throughout the history of redemption as the promised seed of the woman, seed of Abraham, seed of Jesse, etc. Even as God and man met in Jesus Christ, so the eschatological and the linear met at every point of God’s special revelation.’

    Although, Vos surely (and strangely to my mind) missed the position of the Historical Premillennial? Though thankfully not all 20th century Reformed have! As Gordon Clark to name just one.

    • Colin permalink

      2 dimensions. I really like that explanation.

      And I too have never been comfortable with Limited Atonement as 5 pointers tend to present it. But then the 5 points are not explicitly set down in the Institutes. It might be better to say they are derived from a (fallible?) exegesis of the Institutes. Sufficient it has to be for all, but clearly only effectual for the redeemed.

      There is so much more to Calvin than the 5 points.

      • Amen Colin! The Five articles of Remonstrance refers to the document drawn up in 1610 by the followers of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). A “remonstrance” is literally “an expression of opposition or protest,” which in this case was a protest against the Calvinist doctrine of predestination contained in the Belgic Confession. Consequently, those followers of Arminius who drafted this protest were given the name “Remonstrants.”

        This document was condemned as heresy by the reformed churches at the Synod of Dort, 1618-1619. [1]

        And John Calvin came before both of these! The Synod of Dort, as was the Remonstrance were both theological reactions, rather than Biblical Theology! My two-cents anyway, and I am closer to Calvinism, but generally a Neo-Calvinism, with my own eclectic idea’s! 😉

        Btw, great statement here…”But then the 5 points are not explicitly set down in the Institutes. It might be better to say they are derived from a (fallible?) exegesis of the Institutes. Sufficient it has to be for all, but clearly only effectual for the redeemed.” 🙂

      • Sorry, I am writing on the fly here! But loved your statements! 🙂

      • “2 dimensions. I really like that explanation.” Yes, Geerhardus Vos is really worth the read! And he has written himself on Biblical Theology! He did teach at Princeton 1893-94. He is (was) much more of an honest type Calvinist in my opinion, though he never could reach the/a Historic Pre-Mill position. We all have our enigmas and incongruities, as biblical “theolog’s”! Btw, Vos died the year I was born, 1949, Dutch born, but of course died in America… a great Christian sojourner and pilgrim!

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